By Jacob Sturm
Midwest City Beacon
A unique energy filled Deer Creek’s gymnasium for the championship game of the Bruce Gray Invitational on Saturday night.
The Midwest City boys’ basketball team was tasked with a battle again Deer Creek, who delivered a dose of high-intensity basketball in front of a raucous pro-Antlers crowd that seemed to bring the better out of the Bombers. In a 66-63 loss in the tournament championship game, Torey Noel’s team learned more about itself before ending the tournament with merely the consolation prize.
Noel identified the need for a continuous adjustment on the fly as part of the observations he took away from the Saturday matchup.
There was also a noticeable absence of Roy Henderson, which added to the dynamics of the matchup and posed an additional challenge for the Bombers to overcome.
“We’ve been battling in practice every day just to be ready no matter what happens,” Noel said.
Early and often, that meant Carl’Sheon Young being tasked with penetrating the paint and forcing help, leading to open shots for the rest of the Midwest City squad. Young managed to score the first eight points for Midwest City before Deer Creek made adjustments and forced the Bombers to beat them in a collective effort.
Young finished with 24 points, DeShawn Denson II added 12 points, Bryan Williams contributed 10 points to the Bombers’ efforts and Mark Jackson added 9 points all in the second half to keep Midwest City afloat as the pressure ramped up.
“We’ve just got to come out here and play hard every day,” Noel said. “We’ve just got to come out here and make plays every night, and Deer Creek made plays down the stretch.”
Noel acknowledged Deer Creek’s good rebounding which the Bombers have struggled with portions of the season. The issue did rear its head in the final few minutes, with the Antlers rallying from a four-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to nab the victory from the clutches of Midwest City.
Even with the tough loss, there is value for Midwest City to take away. When the playoffs start, close games like this can make a difference regardless of the results in the moment.
“I think it’s needed because in district we’ve been kind of rolling,” Noel said. “… Once the playoffs start, every game will be pretty tough.”